February 22, 2018

CHRISTLife—Five: Acknowledging Wrong Images

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Wouldn’t we all like to pretend that there are no negative and unhealthy images of ourselves hidden in our hearts and minds!?  But the fact is that there probably, almost assuredly, are.  I would prefer if the bad self-images would run off like water on a duck’s back, and the good self-images would be like water on a sponge, which soaks into the core of the sponge and still remains visible on the outside.  Former experiences and people from our past all have an effect on us, whether good or bad.

Our emotional reactions to situations are often “clues to negative images of ourselves” due to past experiences, whether we remember those experiences or not. They influence our attitudes and behaviors.  2 Corinthians 13:5 (AMP) tells us to: “Examine and test and evaluate your own selves….”  To better understand ourselves and our “inner identity album,” we need to examine our viewpoints and beliefs.  They have been formed either from previous bad experiences or from good experiences. We need to separate the bad from the good so we can get rid of the wrong images that distort the truth.

An example might be that as a child in school your teacher gave you a hard time because you were left-handed, you wore hand-me-down clothes, and/or you couldn’t see the blackboard from your seat.  That experience might have distorted your view of those in authority.  It might also have caused a negative self-image to grow in you that has led you to believe you aren’t good enough and you can’t do anything right for those in authority over you.  Your emotional reaction might be to withdraw or to be defensive.  Ruth Myers says this, “We need to become more objective in our viewpoints and beliefs. We must learn not to color the facts with our misguided conclusions and opinions” (pg. 23).

Do you ever hear yourself say, “If only…?” Yes, I know I have said that at times and I’m sure you have too. When those negative, unrealistic “If only….” thoughts come into your mind and even on your lips, you (and I) need to begin to replace them with reality and God’s Word.

“If only my situation would change…”
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

“If only I hadn’t committed that sin in my past…”
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

“If only my parents had been better examples…”
…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Romans 12:2

Recently I saw the movie, “The Guardians” for the first time.  Although just a whimsical, fictional story (of which I will probably forget most of it in short order), there was one line that popped out at me.  Jack Frost asks, “How can I know who I am, before I know who I was?

Obviously, I am contemplating this question from the perspective of this study as well as God’s Word.  Check out Psalm 139.  Here are just a few verses in response to that question:

O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me…
You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion…Every day of my life was recorded in Your Book…
How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.

We are His!

In Jeremiah 31:3, God tells us, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love; with unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.”  Because He loves us so, He wants to help us.  Let’s not waste time wishing the past had never happened.  We have today, and we have God’s Word.  Let’s take on the privilege, the responsibility, the hard work, and the joy of rejecting all the unrealistic and false images in our “inner identity albums.”   With God’s help, let’s replace the lies with truth—His Truth.  How freeing and uplifting that will be when we aren’t carrying around the burden of those lies anymore.  Then, too, our negative reactions will be replaced with responses that bless and glorify Him.

I want to encourage you to go back to chapter 5, page 25, and read again the Scripture references and answer the questions in light of God’s love for you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends You,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalms 139:23-24

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Dear Lord, thank You for this first week of our study. Already, You are revealing to each of us wrong images from our past that still produce negative emotions. We thank You that Your Word is The Truth. As we study together, help us break down the negative past and rebuild our lives based on the truth that is Your Word. ‘I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath’ (Psalms 116:1-2). In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

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